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March 14, 2020 was the day the world shut down for me right here in my hometown of Syracuse. That seemingly normal day started a spiral of events that altered my dating life for the worse.
I dated someone for 11 months. Seven of them occurred during the pandemic, and around four of those seven months were spent in strict quarantine.
It was hard. There’s no way I can explain the fights that ensued or the emotions that we both felt during that time. I couldn’t see the guy I was dating even though he only lived 15 minutes away, and it hurt.
I am no longer dating this person, but one of the most important lessons I learned from being with him is that dating during “normal times” and dating during a pandemic are two completely different things.
College is supposed to be a place where we form relationships that last throughout our life, but it’s virtually impossible to do that right now because everything is online. Campus activities are held on Zoom, faces of students are shrouded by masks both in the classroom and on campus, and going to a party is a risk not worth taking. How are we supposed to meet people if all of these obstacles stand in the way?
Of course, there’s dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble and Hinge that students have always used, but it’s already hard enough finding someone on them who wants the same thing as you. Let alone during a pandemic.
Downloads of dating apps increased dramatically during quarantine because people were stuck in their houses with little opportunities for socialization. People who legitimately want to date someone have to differentiate between those who want a relationship and those who just want a quick one-night stand. Doing so isn’t easy. You can’t tell what a person is looking for just by looking at some pictures and a cheesy bio.
You’re also limited to the people in your building when it comes to hanging out at night or when it comes to randomly meeting someone in the lounge. The latter is how SU senior Tom Russo met his girlfriend of over two years: She was sitting on the couch and watching a movie with her friend. A meeting like this is less likely to happen now. Nobody wants to sit for two and a half hours with a mask on to watch a movie; they want to sit in their room where they aren’t required to wear one.
Russo and his girlfriend went through quarantine barely seeing each other. He believes that dating is harder during a pandemic.
“It’s not the same. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You don’t have that same connection or closeness that you want to have in a relationship. It’s a problem. If you can’t have that physical closeness, it makes it a lot harder to have a relationship,” he said.
However, some students think otherwise.
SU senior Linzy Dineen said her relationship probably wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the pandemic. While lots of people find relationships in college, she found hers in her hometown.
When students were sent home last March, she had the opportunity to spend time with her friends there. One of those friends was someone she ended up building a relationship with.
“It’s different for everyone, but you can find a relationship anywhere, really.”
While there are students who are just looking for hookups, there are also students who want a relationship here at SU. Some students want to find the person who they’ll sit with on SU’s famous kissing bench and who they’ll marry one day.
People are lonely right now, but it’s a different kind of lonely. Some students just want to talk through an app and nothing more, some people want to find someone to spend the night with and others want something serious.
“Trying to find someone looking for the same opportunity as you is hard enough as it is, and this makes it worse,” SU sophomore Angel Gonzalez said.
It will be a long time before we can go back to the way it was before March 2020. Every aspect of our lives has been impacted, including dating.
Dating is already difficult because you have to find someone you truly connect with and who you ultimately want to love. When you put a pandemic on top of that, it’s even worse. There are many couples who met in past years at SU and are still together, whether they’re now dating, engaged or married with two kids. What effect will the pandemic have on the relationships that blossom from SU that couldn’t have formed if it never happened?
I don’t know if I’m looking for a relationship right now, but I do know that, when I was in one during this pandemic, it became a challenge that took a toll on both myself and the relationship.
The pandemic didn’t ruin our college dating experience. It just altered it. Know that it’s not impossible to find your person right now. It’s just a bit harder.
Teagan Brown is a sophomore history and broadcast and digital journalism dual major. Her column appears biweekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on twitter @teagannbrownn.
Published on March 7, 2021 at 9:00 pm
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